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The pincer grasp is a great skill to work on with your toddler! Not only does it help with proper hand grasp for handwriting skills, later on, but it is also helping to strengthen all those little hand and finger muscles your child needs for all kinds of activities. So today I have 2 easy pincer grasp fine motor activities for toddlers to share with you.
I love finding quick and easy fine motor activities for my daughter to do. She is 20 months old and enjoys putting items in and out of containers right now. I was inspired by my friend Becky's (of For This Season) son in a video she shared on her Facebook page. They were doing the straight line sensory bin that I posted about a while back and her son just started taking the lines and items from the sensory bin and pushing them through a water bottle that he found. This gave me an idea for my daughter.
Items Needed for Easy Pincer Grasp Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers
- Task Tray
- Wooden task bin (I got mine from the $1 isle at Target)
- Empty 2 liter bottle or smaller water bottle (the key here is that the opening is small – I used a washed out ice tea bottle)
- Medium size pom poms (for 2nd part of this activity – don't use these if you have a toddler that puts things in their mouth still)
- Colored craft pipe cleaners
Set up your task tray with the 2 liter bottle and wooden task box on top of it. Place the craft pipe cleaners inside the wooden task box and then invite your toddler over to play.
I gave my daughter one demonstration of what to do, but you could also just set it there and see if your child figures out what to do on their own.
My daughter really enjoyed dropping the pipe cleaners through the small bottle opening and into the bottle. For a child that is a little bit older, you could have them try and get the pipe cleaners back out as well.
For a little added fine motor strengthening, I switched out the pipe cleaners for medium-sized pom-poms. Pushing the pom poms through the opening required a little more skill; she didn't have to just drop the pom poms into the hole, she had to actually push them through. This adds a little bit of extra fine motor practice with the pincer grasp practice too.
To set up this activity with the pom poms, just replace pipe cleaners in the wooden box with the medium size pom poms… it's that easy.
You can see this took a lot of concentration on her part. She played with this for probably a good 15 minutes.
This also turned into a great bilateral coordination activity for her. She held on to the bottle with one arm and then used her other hand to place each pom-pom into the bottle.
For an added bonus for an older child, have them complete this activity using fine motor tweezers or wooden clothespins to pick up the pom-poms and push them into the bottle. That would give them some good pincer grip strengthening and they would also have to learn how much pressure to put through the tweezer or clothespin in order to pick up or drop the pom poms.
You could also try it with the pipe cleaners, although that might be a little too hard, depending on your child's age.
Skills Used in this Pincer Grasp Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers
- Eye-Hand Coordination – Being able to pick up the pipe cleaner/pom poms and push them into the container.
- Fine Motor Strength – Actually pushing the pom-poms and pipe cleaners into the bottle
- Pincer Grasp – Pinching with their thumb/index and middle fingers to pick up and drop items such as the pom-poms or pipe cleaners. Also pinching the tweezers or wooden clothespins.
- Bilateral Coordination – Have your child hold the 2-liter bottle while placing the items into it.
For more activities like this one, check out my ebook: Basic Shapes for Beginners: A Hands-on Approach to Pre-Writing Strokes for Preschoolers. It is designed for ages 2-5, so would be a perfect addition to your toddler's day.